Monday, November 5, 2012


I have the reputation for getting angry too easily.

From my perspective, what I'm prone to do is tell what I believe to be the truth even if it hurts people's feelings and ruins the cocktail party or the family gathering. I'm not defending this and, over the years, I have learned to take deep breaths and bite my tongue even to the point where I feel like a hypocrite.

My daughter just published a rant on her blog about how our education system has failed her children and I can't restrain myself from jumping on the band wagon.

 I've worked in several of California's public schools in various capacities since 1981. Here are some things I've learned, solely by experience, and I have no doubt they can be applied to New Mexico or any other state in the USA.

Catering to each child's individual learning style is not easy in a class of twenty or more students and it is certainly incompatible with a one-size-fits-all curriculum, not to mention standardized testing.

Most teachers think bad behaviors are the result of bad parenting while parents think bad behaviors are the result of bad teaching.

Only a few teachers consider "misfit" students challenging and interesting; most prefer students who can follow directions the first time they're given, students who can  quietly and accurately complete a worksheet without drumming on the desk, squirming, whistling or talking.  

Elementary school teachers are shockingly deficient in areas such as Social Studies -- i.e., their knowledge does not extend beyond the text books they use, most of which are glib, inaccurate and supremely boring.

Teachers tend to resent other teachers who go the extra mile or are singled out for being innovative and inspiring.

On the other hand, being named "teacher of the year" means precisely nothing when it comes to broad-mindedness, compassionate teaching, impartial grading, etc. What it probably means is the administration is pleased with you.

In affluent school districts, parents can, and do, intimidate teachers, turning them into sycophants and lackeys.

Many education courses appear to consist of filigreed structures of meaningless jargon which have no relevance whatsoever to what actually goes on in a classroom.

"Experts" on education tend to be overpaid masters of newly-minted cliches.

Most parents could not do a better job than their child's teacher, though some undoubtedly could.

Is  our educational system broken? Certainly it is and here's why...

Enthusiasm for, and knowledge of, one's subject combined with an innate ability to teach and a capacity for empathy and compassion is RARE, RARE, RARE. It cannot be procured by offering mediocre salaries, politically-generated goals based on rote learning, and intimidating consequences for failure to reach such goals.


  1. I can only imagine what a hard job being a teacher must be with all the students at different levels and unable to work individually with each student as they need it. I would think teaching would be an awful stressful job.


  2. You serve here to highlight something seldom discussed. The outstanding and dedicated to excellence in the classroom teacher is NOT common and is NOT recognized. It's embarrassingly true. There are magnificent men and women out there fighting the system and putting their students first and trying to make a difference, but they are rare and they are lost in the business of running a school and moving students along.

    Wonderful post and well said!

  3. All this seems so (sadly)familiar.

  4. The state of public education is a sad reflection on where our priorities, as a society, are. Admittedly, even the BEST of systems wouldn't be able to meet every need every day, but it would certainly offer a broader reach and accommodate for the fact that there is more than one right way to do things and students and teachers and human beings.